A couple of ways to sell more local art

I met late last week with Kate Barton, who runs the Skylight Studio gallery on First Street. She’s trying to brainstorm a campaign that would raise awareness about buying local art. She suggests that most people, for example, will head to the mall during the holidays rather than to their favorite local gallery in search of a gift.

Her question: How can we convince more people to buy art instead of other stuff? Here’s two brief suggestions, one of which is Barton’s, and the other comes from a local source.

  • Barton’s research led her to a campaign in Providence, Rhode Island, which has a higher number of artists per capita than any other American city. The city started a “I Buy Art” campaign in 2008 for which it commissioned buttons from five local artist, which you’d receive if you bought a piece above a certain price. (The artists who made buttons received a $500 stipend from the city for their time and materials they used.) The campaign had the effect of raising awareness for local arts, like the "Buy Fresh, Buy Local" campaign that’s raised awareness of local food resources simply by colonizing local Prius bumpers.
  • The portion of the public that does themselves make art has a hard time conceiving of the amount of work it takes to paint a canvas, blow a pot, or even render the Virgin Mary in elephant dung. At the Show Your Magic to the World You Are In gallery, which was open for a mere month at 101 E. Main St., Downtown. Artists displayed the amount of time they had put into each work, and buyers could determine what they thought would be a worthwhile hourly rate. In short: More people could be convinced to buy art if they knew how much work went into making it.

Other suggestions? Love to hear ’em.


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